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1 Activities Report 2010 Institute of Health and Society / IRSS / Institut de recherche santé et société

2 Activities Report 2010 Institute of Health and Society / IRSS / Institut de recherche santé et société

3 Institute of Health and Society / IRSS / Institut de Recherche Santé et Société Université catholique de Louvain Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs 30 bte Bruxelles Belgium Secrétariat IRSS N. Joris-Dessy Tel. +32 (0) Fax +32 (0)2/ Président P r W. D Hoore Editor P r W. D Hoore For a copy of this report please contact : See Date : December 2011 Graphisme : Marie-Hélène Grégoire [misenpage] Photographies : Jacky Delorme 2 Institute of Health and Society IRSS / Activities Report 2010

4 Table of contents Acknowledgements 4 Chairman s foreword 5 1/ Health systems and services research 7 2/ Vulnerable populations, law and bioethics 11 3/ Health sciences education 15 4/ International Health 16 5/ Methodological Tools for Public Health 19 6/ Clinical epidemiology 25 7/ Services : a dialog between the institute in its social environment 28 8/ The graduate school and PhD students 31 9/ Publications / Articles in international peer-reviewed journals / Articles in international non peer-reviewed journals / Books and/or books chapters / Reports / PhD dissertations (completed) / Communications at national and international conferences / Published communication/abstract / Oral communication / Poster presentation 51 10/ Other scientific activities and continuing education / Keynote speaker, excluding conferences and symposiums / Participation in continuing education / Membership of learned societies and expertise / Reviewer 61 11/ The IRSS staff 63 IRSS / Activities Report

5 Acknowledgements My thanks and gratitude go to my colleagues of the Institute, P r Jean Macq, D r Isabelle Aujoulat and Pablo Nicaise, P r Vincent Lorant, P r Dominique Vanpee and D r Valérie Dory, P r Niko Speybroeck, P r Jan Degryse, and P r Debby Guha-Sapir, who had to coordinate the preparation of a chapter under the double constraints of concision and representativeness. Of course, these main contributors relied upon the input and advice of all the researchers of the Institute. Tummers, Anne-Sophie Van Malleghem, and Karine Verstraeten. Special thanks to D r Valérie Dory, who subjected the English spelling to rigorous scrutiny and much improved its quality. Without their help, the present report would still remain a dream. William D hoore Many thanks to the research support staff of the Institute : France Libion, who did a great job in compiling the publication and conference list, and Sophie Jassogne, for the layout. My thank also go to the administrative staff of the Institute. The format of a scientific report makes their contribution merely less visible, but without their help and support, researchers should be general handymen and research would be hard to perform. So, my thank go to Nathalie Chaidron, administrative coordinator of the Institute, Nicole Joris-Dessy, Valérie Van Butsele and Steve Arokium, who are the central administrative staff, Regina Below, Christophe Debacker, Carole Deccache, Roxane Dierckx de Casterlé, Dominique Doumont, Bernadette Dubus, Carole Feulien, Yvette Gossiaux, David Hargitt, Nadine Janssens, Nicolas Mahieu, Nathalie Malevé, Gaëtane Martin, Isabelle Pouplier, Isabelle Roch, Danielle Thone, Jeannine Van Gompel- 4 IRSS / Activities Report 2010

6 Chairman s foreword Why health and society? To see health in its social context is to look beyond the limits of medicine and medical care to a wider set of issues that involve social, economic, cultural and political dimensions of illness and wellness. This is the perspective shared by the members of the Institute. Health and society is a crossroad where multiple aspects intersect : individual and population, analysis and interventions, evidence and ethics,. The interdisciplinary IRSS community is building an integrative framework to better address these complexities. The present report documents avenues of research, mostly interdisciplinary, developed by IRSS members, to enhance understanding of the health of individuals and populations, in order to improve population health. The report includes a brief description of 7 major topics, most of them strongly interconnected, and research outcomes. This report is a landmark : it delineates activities and creative endeavours of IRSS members, it defines the identity of a young institute driven by a shared vision, it also outlines future research. to health for everyone. Health and society issues are complex and they require collaboration both across the campus and with partners outside. We are facing changing societal and global conditions affecting health e.g. socio-economic health disparities, ageing and the increasing burden of non communicable disease. These challenges call for a new level of innovation, including prevention, health promotion and reorienting health services. These challenges must be met in order to improve health for communities and populations, and each person s health. William D hoore We are experiencing a pivotal moment. As the knowledge and boundaries of the field expand, in the life sciences, in system thinking, in information technologies, there is a need to develop innovative agendas for research, education and translation of research results into practice, to achieve the fundamental right IRSS / Activities Report

7 6 IRSS / Activities Report 2010

8 1/ Health systems and services research Guy Beuken P r Jean Macq, M. Pablo Nicaise and D r Isabelle Aujoulat Description of the topic There are many definitions of Health Services/Systems Research, in part because of its markedly multidisciplinary nature. Health services research (HSR) is the multidisciplinary field of scientific investigation that studies how social factors, financing systems, organizational structures and processes, health technologies, and personal behaviors affect access to health care, the quality and cost of health care, and ultimately our health and well-being. Its research domains are individuals, families, organizations, institutions, communities, and populations (Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy, 2000). By essence, all the research in HSR is framed into a multidisciplinary approach, simultaneously involving researchers with different backgrounds, such as : sociology, economics, nursing, psychology, psychiatry, medicine, health informatics This vast area includes a wide range of topics that are often assembled in four levels of action : a/ The clinical level, e.g. clinical and human interventions assessment and their impact on the health of the population and the organization of care ; b/ The services level, e.g. hospital care organization and clinical governance, strategies for quality of care, nursing ; c/ The inter-organizational level, e.g. health and social care integration and continuity of care for people with complex needs ; d/ The policy level, e.g. health policy and reform strategies assessment, and their impact on health systems organization and effectiveness, health economy. The Institute of Health and Society focuses more specifically on five fields of study across the three first four levels of action, namely : 1/ Child and adolescent health ; 2/ Primary Care ; 3/ Mental Health ; 4/ Ageing ; 5/ Health information systems. We present just few examples of the research projects run by our institute in the field of HSR, corresponding to level-field crossing. A comprehensive list is available at the end of the report. What has been done At the clinical level The onco-geriatric project is a randomized trial on a comprehensive functional intervention associated with a care planning and treatment decision process for older patients with cancer. 1 Another project focuses on the assessment of specific needs of older patients admitted to the emergency department of a hospital. It is a qualitative study and it analyzes the pathway of care and the multiple correspondents experienced by the elder users in Emergency Departments. 2 A third project in geriatrics is centered on biomarkers of frailty. This ongoing interuniversity project aims to better characterize the frail patients admitted to the hospital, 1 D r M. de Saint Hubert, D. Schoevaerdt PhD student, D r P. Cornette 2 D r I. De Brauwer, D r B. Boland, P r W. D hoore, D r P. Cornette IRSS / Activities Report / Health systems and services research 7

9 by adding biological criteria to the existing clinical and functional criteria. It helps to better prevent functional decline associated with the hospital admission and stay of frail older patients. 3 At this level, research is also developed on child and adolescent health from a comprehensive perspective. Indeed, children and adolescents with acute or chronic health disorders are a vulnerable group of population. They face complex needs which have to be addressed from a multiple point of view, including medicine, psychology, social care, education, in relation to their families and social environment. For example, a group develops researches in the field of clinical communication and health and patient education 4. Another research project looks at innovative interventions to support the health, psychological and educational needs of liver transplant recipients who transition from parental supervised care to self-managed care. As part of the project, a multidisciplinary research group involving experts with different backgrounds (medicine, psychology, philosophy, medical ethics, adolescent medicine and sociology) has been set up and meets on a regular basis, to better understand the impact of living-related donation on family dynamics, identity construction, and self-management capacity of paediatric patients 5. Other projects look at the relationship between glycaemic control, self-care support and parenting styles in paediatric patients with type 1 diabetes, or the general health and development needs of adolescent mothers and their children. At the services level Most of the project developed at this level concern the hospital and long term care institutions. A wealth of research is carried out in nursing 6. Various projects are under way which aim at providing evidence and evidence-based practice in nursing sciences and its dissemination. We may cite, for example : intervention research to prevent violence in psychiatric settings ; 3 D r M. de saint Hubert, C. Swine 4 D r Isabelle Aujoulat 5 D r Isabelle Aujoulat and P r Raymond Reding 6 D r Micheline Gobert (deceased on November 4th, 2010), P r Elisabeth Darras effective use and time needed for performing the Belgian nursing minimum dataset ; prevalence study of malnutrition and oral health of residents in nursing homes ; evaluation of malnutrition management projects in hospitals ; identification of evidence-based research in the scientific literature on screening and assessment tools, evidence-based recommendations and guidelines ; validation of best practices and translation of screening tools. At the inter-organizational and system level One project is being carried out by sociologists and psychiatrists on the integration of care in the mental health and social care field. Social Network Analysis indicators are used to describe and measure the level and type of relations between mental health, social care and other primary care services (See Methodological tools for public health, box 4). This project involves several European cities in a cross-national comparison. Findings offer a useful basis for evaluating the achievement of care integration and orienting policies 7. Our institute is also a partner in the the ACHIL project/laboratory (Ambulatory Care Health Information Laboratory) 8. This project aims at assessing the effectiveness of ambulatory care trajectories (a complex intervention based on the chronic care model) at the national level using data from the GPs Electronic Patient Records. The project also intends to appraise the impact of the information system itself on the results of this assessment and to study the properties of such research information systems (including the GPs electronic patient records and a benchmarking procedure). One evaluation project on health and social care integration is being developed within the field of community dwelling frail elderly people. Economists, sociologists, physicians, epidemiologists, and geriatric nurses, have developed a comprehensive approach to evaluate a large scale program with multiform and locally devised projects (63 projects across the 3 regions of 7 P rs Vincent Dubois & Vincent Lorant 8 D r Etienne De Clercq 8 1/ Health systems and services research IRSS / Activities Report 2010

10 Belgium). The projects has been commissioned by the Belgian Federal Government and is funded by the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (NIHDI 9 ). Its aim is to provide sound information to the NIHDI and other public authorities on long term innovative care integration programs 10. Our ambitions for the future The ambition is to develop further research projects that aim at strengthening the system dimension of the health and social care system in Europe and abroad. This will have consequences on : 1/ the topics under study : for example studying the care for people with complex needs, such as frail elderly people or people with mental health problems should shed light on the strategies and the mechanisms to improve interaction between organisations and stakeholders, part of local health and social care systems ; 2/ the methodological approaches : these should be developed around change dynamics within health and social care systems and the elicitation of the multiple perspectives around such system development. Systemic approach and methods inspired from complexity science are examples of it. 9 INAMI-RIZIV 10 P r Jean Macq, P r Christian Swine and colleagues from KULeuven, UIAntwerpen and ULiège. IRSS / Activities Report / Health systems and services research 9

11 10 1/ Health systems and services research IRSS / Activities Report 2010

12 2/ Vulnerable populations, law and bioethics European Community, 2006 P r Vincent Lorant Description of the topic Efforts to describe, analyse and improve population health have to cope with the frustrating finding that some groups often turn out to have much poorer health status than others, and may also have lower access to health-enhancing resources. These vulnerable groups may be identified along several dimensions such as socio-economic status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or age : different health problems have different vulnerable grouping. Health inequalities is the domain of research describing and analysing such health differences while Law and Ethics provide frameworks to assess the extent to which such inequalities are deemed unfair and how to address them. The Institute of Health and Society has been involved in several projects that can be classified in three main topics : ethnicity and health, care and justice, patients rights. The measure of inequalities, as a methodological topic, is addressed in the section related to epidemiology and methods in public health. IRSS / Activities Report / Vulnerable populations, law and bioethics 11

13 What has been done Health inequalities Ethnic inequalities in health and health care are an important and growing topic of research and practice. Europe accounts for a quarter of international migration, and one European resident in 12 is a migrant. Our research aimed at understanding how best to respond to such challenge. The Eugate project explored the views and experiences of health care professionals in 16 different European countries on what the difficulties are in providing such care and on what constitutes good practice. In particular the Eugate project looked at the situation of a particularly at-risk group of migrant, the Undocumented migrants, not being entitled to full access to health care services (box n 1). Entitlement is an important vehicule for improving ethnic equalities. More however is needed to address the specific needs of these groups. Enhancing cultural competence of health care providers and clinicians is a promising avenue being investigated thanks to the support of a FNRS grant 11. Box 1/ EUGATE project : Best Practices in Access, Quality and Appropriateness of Health Services for Immigrants in Europe. Marie Dauvrin, Vincent Lorant, and Charlotte Geerts The EUGATE project, funded by DG SANCO, aimed to identify best practices in healthcare services several groups of migrants including labour migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. The project, carried out in 16 EU countries, reviewed existing legislation and policies, obtained the opinions of experts on factors constituting best practice, and assessed the views and experiences of health professionals in different types of health services. Although the legal health care entitlements available to irregular migrants vary, most of the investigated countries were confronted with access issues, limited communication and associated legal complications. We concluded that the needs of the patients and the values of the staff appear to be more important than the national legal framework, with different European countries adopting a similar pragmatic approach in delivering health care. Whilst legislation might help to improve health care for irregular migrants, more appropriate organisation and local flexibility are likely to be more important, especially for improving access and care pathways. More on : Dauvrin M., Geerts Ch., Lorant V., 2010, and Dauvrin M., Priebe S., Bogic M., Lorant V., Marie Dauvrin, PhD student, and P r Vincent Lorant 12 2/ Vulnerable populations, law and bioethics IRSS / Activities Report 2010

14 Law and health Although health status is, in the end, measured at the individual level, health protection is an important determinant of health and, is indeed considered as one important health promotion tool. It includes the legal framework, legal and quasi-legal liabilities that may contribute to a better health status. In that respect, the Institute has recently focused on several topics that are relevant for health protection and patient autonomy : patient rights (notably free and informed consent in general, assent or even consent of the minor, consent of the elderly, assent of the mentally incapable person), end of life (palliative care and euthanasia), mediation in the healthcare sector as an alternative to trials, civil and criminal liability, privacy in electronic patient record network and on the Belgian e-health Platform, biobanks, genetic screening, organ-donation, clinical research. This line of research is very promising because it avoids putting the blame on the vulnerable groups, has shown to be very cost-efficient (for example in tobacco prevention) and is amenable to change. A good example of such approach is the development of mediation in the healthcare sector as an alternative to trials (see box n 2). Box 2/ Mediation in the healthcare sector : challenges and perspectives in Belgian and comparative law. Marie-Noëlle Derèse and Geneviève Schamps The Ph. D project focuses on mediation in the healthcare sector in Belgium, in France, in the Netherlands and in Quebec. It includes first a review of the general concept of mediation and a classification of the existing systems of mediation in other fields of law (family law, criminal law, etc.). Then a critical analysis of existing and proposed regulations on mediation in the healthcare sector will be carried in these four abovementioned States. The way in which medical mediation is perceived and applied by the people involved in the healthcare sector is also explored. Fundamental questions underlying the research are explored : is the legal system for medical mediation in Belgium adapted to the specificity of the healthcare sector? Are the mediation systems which exist in other fields relevant to medical mediation? Do the mechanisms used abroad provide useful insights? Answers to these questions will help to build up a standard of mediation in the healthcare sector. Such a standard is necessary to suggest concrete proposals de lege ferenda to improve the legal framework for medical mediation in Belgium. IRSS / Activities Report / Vulnerable populations, law and bioethics 13

15 Health ethics Public and clinical Health is not only a scholar enterprise but is strongly embedded in values that may be conflicting. Health ethics is thus a very important domain of research and practice that enlightens the hierarchy of values underpinning health interventions and their impact on the decision process. In that respect the Institute is involved into questioning several distributional issues such the north-south divide regarding clinical research, and ethics of global research regarding gender in relation to the methodological issues of care, beginning and end-of-life decisions in a postgenomic and biotechnological silent revolution. An important and recent move in clinical and global bioethics is to consider Ethics not only as the art of arguing according to principles but also as the art of contextualizing ethics in practice, which enables a link to be made between the autonomous perspective and a less paternalistic vision of the public good. evaluation has given contradictory results. Within this project, we studied the barriers to their use according to the stakeholders views and developed a protocol of intervention adapted to the care system in Belgium. This protocol should be implemented and evaluated in a further step. Our ambitions for the future The ambition is to link the different inequalities streams together under general theoretical framework. Socio-economic and ethnic inequalities in health stay rather aloof one from the other whereas underlying mechanisms are rather generic. From a financial perspective, we hope also to capture funds from the 7 th framework programme. The analysis of these topics will also be continued on Belgium law but also on comparative law. The ethics, deontological and legal point of views will be studied. Mental health Some specific mental health projects in 2010 concern food aversion in early chilhood 12, variability in evaluative judgments about behavior problems in young children 13 in collaboration with the faculty of psychology), the experience of parents and siblings of children with autism 14, and infantile psychosis 15, specific screening criteraia for child and adolescent abuse 16. Another project is the implementation of an intervention in mental health of Psychiatric Advance Directives (PADs) (P r V. Lorant, P r V. Dubois). PADs are documents that allow users with severe and chronic mental illnesses to notify their treatment preferences for future crisis relapses. They are a beneficial tool to empower vulnerable users with complex needs into their treatment and organize the care according to their needs. However, their take-up rate has remained very low, and their clinical 12 P r Dominique Charlier, P r Hermans and al. 13 P r Isabelle Roskam, P r Dominique Charlier and al. 14 D r Anne Wintgens 15 M me Sophie Symann (PhD student) and al. 16 P r Emmanuel de Becker and al. 14 2/ Vulnerable populations, law and bioethics IRSS / Activities Report 2010

16 3/ Health sciences education P r Dominique Vanpee and D r Valérie Dory Description of the topic Research in health sciences education aims to improve healthcare by advancing the education and training of health professionals. Its inclusion in the Institute of Health and Society is based on both its aims and its methods which draw from the biomedical and social sciences. Our research focuses on the cornerstone of professional practice, i.e. clinical and ethical reasoning, how to help learners develop expert reasoning and how to assess it. What has been done? Research in this area has only recently begun at UCL. Valerie Dory completed our first PhD in 2009 on the topic of self-assessment in general practice trainees. Three PhD projects are ongoing, one on the use of a relatively recent instrument to measure clinical data interpretation, the Script Concordance Test (Caroline Boulouffe), one on the use of conceptual mapping to help students in midwifery develop their clinical reasoning skills (Anne Demeester), and one on competency-based education in ethical reasoning (Grégory Aiguier). Valérie Dory obtained an F.R.S.-FNRS position to pursue her post-doctoral project on the validity of instruments pertaining to measure clinical reasoning. Although still a small team, we draw from our interprofessional backgrounds (i.e. emergency medicine, general practice, midwifery and education) and on our networks both inside and outside UCL. We have built strong ties with foreign institutions (Institut Catholique de Lille, Université de Provence, Université de Montréal) including a leading group in assessment of clinical reasoning, i.e. CPASS at Université de Montréal, Canada. Our team is also a member of the Group of Prague, an international network of researchers in the field of clinical reasoning. We continue to have strong connections with other centres at UCL such as the General Practice Centre, the Centre for Educational Development, and the teaching hospital, CHU Mont-Godinne. This year, we launched a new quarterly Health Sciences Education section in the institutional journal, Louvain Médical to increase awareness of Health Sciences Education in our faculty and affiliated clinical educators. Our ambitions for the future Our aim is to further our understanding of clinical and ethical reasoning and its assessment, and for these insights to be put in to practice in our curricula as well as in curricula worldwide. In order to fulfil this goal, we must : 1/ Intensify our institutional links with the Faculty of Medecine and Dentistry and take part in faculty development, 2/ Continue to disseminate our findings through participations in conferences and high quality peer-reviewed publications. We have also begun to interest young medical students in Health Sciences Education through master s dissertations in the field. We hope that this initiative will help us expand our manpower to meet the challenges ahead. IRSS / Activities Report / Health sciences education 15

17 4/ International Health P r Debby Guha-Sapir Description of the topic Research on international health issues has been a long tradition at the former Louvain School of Public Health, starting with front line research on tropical diseases and health service delivery in developing countries. In the newly created Institute of Health and Society which is specifically aimed at research excellence, the programme incorporates public health research both in developing and developed settings. The faculty undertakes wide ranging research in co-operation with scientists in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as those in developed economies such as United States, Japan and other EU countries. International health research in IRSS not only englobes topics that address gaps in public health and epidemiology in poorer setting but its members actively work on shared concerns, that Belgium shares with other countries. What has been done A major focus on the programme in international health is its health service systems and delivery in poor settings and complex systems in health care delivery and long term care. Several professors are engaged in health services research ranging from issues related to ageing in Russia, effects of climate extremes and civil war on human health to essential questions on health service delivery and effects of policy reform. Prof. Macq and his team address public health issues at its most fundamental level while keeping a firm hold on concrete barriers and obstacles that prevent health systems from working efficiently. In recent years, he has been focusing on issues of hospital governance in DR Congo as well as concrete service related research questions on the interface between vertical and primary care services. He is also undertaking studies on follow up care of obstetrical fistula, a widespread but neglected problem and translational research of research to policy in collaboration with IMT-Antwerp. Another project concerns the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents in Niger and Tanzania. Both projects aim to propose innovative interventions to strengthen the providers capacity to respond to the needs of specific vulnerable populations. Decentralization of health services is an increasingly common phenomenon all over the world and Prof. Lorant along with his doctoral student funded by the UCL development cooperation fellowship programme is looking at the impact of decentralization on health outcomes in Colombia. Prof. Speybroeck works with international partners towards improved estimations and understanding of the burden of malaria and zoonoses. In Ethiopia the impact of hydroelectric dams on Malaria is being assessed. In Peru the efficacy of the current radical cure regimen for Plasmodium vivax infections in preventing short and long term relapses is being assessed in the Peruvian Amazon region. In Nepal a doctoral student is assessing the impact of food borne diseases, trying to assess how to optimize the health information systems in place. Prof. Speybroeck is also chair of a Task Force within the Foodborne 16 4/ International Health IRSS / Activities Report 2010

18 Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) based at the World Health Organization. The study of such complex problems such as vector-borne diseases (interaction vector, environment and humans) and food borne diseases requires a multidisciplinary approach. Prof. Degryse heads a small but dynamic research team which works actively with global health issues with partners from the Russian Federation. Their work focuses mainly on primary health care and ageing, a topic of top priority on the European continent. The team publishes regularly on these topics and presents in international conferences, examples of some of which can be seen in the list of publications. In particular (as one example amongst others) a strong collaboration has been created with scientific institutes in the Russian Federation. An advanced course in research Methodology and Statistics was set up in St Petersburg for PhD students and an exchange program for PhD and post-doc researchers was started in These have resulted in two major research projects : the CRYS- TAL study was the first population-based study in Russia concerning the global health and functional status of the community-dwelling elderly. The project supported one post-doc and three PhD projects. RESPECT (RESearch on the PrEvalence and the diagnosis of COPD and its Tobacco related etiology) project is a study designed to provide better understanding of the diagnostic issues as well as the health care needs linked to the 4th cause of mortality in a large series of countries. This research also provided resources for 2 post-doc researchers and 2 PhD projects. An area which has moved from a specialized niche twenty years ago, to a global priority today is natural and climate related disasters and civil conflict. Prof. Guha-Sapir and her team of medical epidemiologists, statisticians, geographers and economists research the health impacts of floods, cyclones and earthquakes. The multi-disciplinary, multi-lingual team works on field research as well as policy applications of the results. They systematically undertake post disaster studies with the WHO, European Union and academic partners in EU and USA, most recently in China, Haiti and Indonesia. Currently a large scale health and livelihood survey is ongoing in Darfur, Sudan and a second one is planned in Ethiopia. Close collaboration with colleagues from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health has led to four joint publications in press this year. Four PhD theses are currently in preparation, two of which are FNRS candidates. Prof. Dominique Charlier brings a different but key perspective in her international research portfolio, where she now studies the effects of abandonment of infants in urban setting in DR Congo. She works with P r Mampunza and D r Isabelle Aujoulat on this topic which addresses an issue that is both morally and socially compelling. Prof. Botbol-Baum has received a Fogarty grant (R25-TW 7098) and has been associated as a co-principal investigator in a NIH program called Strengthening Bioethics Capacity and Justice in Health. She has participated in the works of the CIBAF (Centre Interdisciplinaire de Bioéthique pour l Afrique Francophone, see in Kinshasa since its foundation in She has developed a strong collaboration with doctoral students on bioethics research and international research, culminating in several OMS publications for trainers in bioethics for Francophone Africa, mainly in Congo RDC, Senegal and Burkina Faso. She is developing a similar Center for Ethics in Lubumbashi, associated with HELESI, in collaboration with P r Clumeck and Prof. Kyombo (Kinshasa School of Public Health). P r Baum has directed a PhD student on the problems of street children in Kinshasa and another thesis on the impact of religions on medical decisions from a capability approach. She has co-developed a network of researchers actively working on this methodology as an alternative bioethical approach for the south, emerging from her book Bioéthique pour les Pays du Sud. Many publications have been produced with her doctoral students on these issues, linking narrative ethics with the capability approach in order to empower local research and overcome contextual vulnerability. IRSS / Activities Report / International Health 17

19 Future Directions for International Health Research in IRSS Improving health in low income settings has risen on the global agenda in recent years and IRSS will develop this area significantly in the next years. In general, the strategy is to clearly focus on three areas of expertise that currently exists in the international health group : / Health services and evaluation of complex systems, / Quantitative epidemiology and modeling techniques, / Public health and humanitarian crises. A coherent research programme centred on the above themes along with an international internship programme is planned along with opportunities for doctoral students to participate actively in field research. Specific outreach strategies to encourage participation from EU as well as Asian, African and Latin American countries are in development. The programme will present opportunities for students and visiting scholars to work and teach in English and offer a dynamic, multicultural research setting 18 4/ International Health IRSS / Activities Report 2010

20 5/ Methodological Tools for Public Health P r Niko Speybroeck Description of the topic This Section describes the analytical work that is conducted and developments taking place at the Institute of Health and Society (IRSS). IRSS is working with its partners to quantify health problems and build evidence about how health determinants influence health and health systems. IRSS does this by working on three important evidence related questions : 1/ What is the impact of a health problem? 2/ How do different determinants shape this problem? 3/ How do we best dedicate resources to monitor and maximize health progress? Therefore, IRSS tries to develop methodological tools to allow handling the three following themes : Impact Assessment, Understanding, and Health Information Systems : Impact Assessment In Public Health, it is crucial, to have an indication of the importance or burden of the health problem under study. Medical studies are often conducted without such an impact assessment, but without credible, comprehensible and comparable information on the impact of a health problem, the success or failure of any intervention remains uncertain. Without the knowledge on the burden and cost of existing health problems, it is furthermore impossible to prioritize health interventions and surveillance activities. In order to protect Public Health, it is critical to pursue a strategic approach that quickly identifies different types of hazards, ranks them by level of importance and identifies approaches with the greatest potential to reduce hazards. Understanding Once the impact of a health problem is quantified, interventions can be envisaged. It is important to determine the effect of such interventions and to quantify the effect and interplay of other determinants on health Health Information Systems Based on the indicators extracted from the work in Theme 1, the last step is to develop a monitoring system. Such a monitoring system (e.g., observation, surveys ) can provide society with health information on a continuous basis and will include an understanding of the influence on health of environmental, climatic and socio-economic factors. The cycle of these themes is illustrated in Figure 1. Examining these three components jointly, provides a broad picture of how to respond to health challenges and the basis for a health information system which is sustainable, efficient (e.g. costefficient) and optimal. Figure 1 Cycle of the three Methodological Tools for Public Health themes. Impact Assessment Understanding Health Information Systems IRSS / Activities Report / Methodological Tools for Public Health 19

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